The QOLS group recruits up to ~ 10 PhD students per year to work on a variety of different projects, supported by a wide range of different sponsors.

Broadly, most of our PhD students are supported by either a Research Council DTP award, EU project studentship (as part of a research grant), by a scholarship designed for overseas students (typically from the student’s own government), by industrial sponsorship or by private funding.

Showcase area


The main place we advertise opportunities to study for a PhD within the QOLS Group is this website. From time to time we may also advertise in publications such as the New Scientist or Physics World but this is not our usual practice. We also do not make much use of commercial websites that advertise PhD opportunities. Along with all the other research groups in the Physics Department, we will be represented at the Imperial College London PG opportunities fair, usually held in November or December, and we will also take part in the Physics Department PG opportunities fair, held in the Physics Department, that is sometimes arranged to be on the same day. In January or February of each year we provide a tour of the QOLS Group for interested UG and MSc students. While this is mainly directed at our own Imperial Physics students, it is open to anyone. The PG opportunities fair and tour will be advertised on the QOLS Group website closer to the time.

Eligibility for PhD research within the QOLS Group

We welcome applications for PhD research from students around the World. Applicants should have, or be expecting, a First Class honours degree, or a good Upper-Second, in physics or engineering and be strongly motivated to undertake challenging, cutting-edge research. We believe that our research students' achievements are, and should be, competitive with those of the best research universities in the world. This implies a world-class level of commitment and professionalism from our staff and our students. We place significant emphasis on teamwork and effective communication.

When and how to apply

In principle a PhD can start at any time of year although, in practice, the majority of PhD students begin their studies in October at the start of the academic year. For DTP studentships, we aim to make offers to suitable candidates by March and most successful PhD applications are received before then. Recently, however, because the fraction of PhD studentships derived from Research Council Quota awards is steadily decreasing in favour of project studentships (Research Council and EU projects) and industrial studentships, we do have an increasing number of students who begin their studies throughout the year.

We therefore recommend that interested applicants apply for to study for a PhD with us as soon as possible in the academic year. We note, however, that funding opportunities do arise later in the year – when most applicants have settled their PhD arrangements - and encourage anyone interested to apply at any time up to September.

Applications should be submitted via My Imperial.

If you require further information, please contact Marcia Salviato, Assistant Optics Administrator.

Financial support

Each year the QOLS group expects to be able to offer three or four EPSRC DTP PhD studentships. Other possible studentships include occasional Research Committee studentships from BBSRC, project studentships supported by a Research Council or DTI grant, studentships sponsored by companies and studentships supported by research contracts from the EU.

For the Quota awards, the studentship will be offered to the most promising applicant to the relevant members of the QOLS Group although, in some circumstances, preference may be given to applicants wishing to work on projects supervised by particular members of staff. Other studentships, such as project studentships, are usually within the gift of specific members of academic staff.

Read more information on scholarships and awards.

Check current tuition fees.

RCUK studentships: Research Council funding for postgraduate research training. For UK students, these pay the tuition fees and provide a stipend. EU students may also be supported by these studentships on a fees-only basis, i.e. they will not receive a stipend. The RCUK studentships may be converted to CASE PhD studentships if a suitable company can be found to act as sponsor. For more information, please check the website of the RCUK that you are considering: EPSRC, STFC, BBSRC .

CASE PhD studentships: In some cases a UK Research Council studentship may be converted to a CASE studentship or a company can offer an Industrial CASE studentship in partnership with a university. A CASE PhD student is expected to spend up to 6 weeks per year working at the sponsoring company’s site and their project will be in an area of interest to the company. In some cases the CASE student’s stipend can be increased compared to the normal award. For more information, please check the BBSRC or EPSRC websites.

EU sponsored Project PhD studentships: These are open to EU students who must not have been resident in the country hosting the PhD student for the previous 3 years. Normally this means that our EU-funded PhD students are from another EU country than the UK. The fees are paid and stipends are similar to Research Council CASE studentships although this does change from year to year.

Company-sponsored studentships: The conditions associated with these studentships will vary with each case but, in general, they are not necessarily restricted to UK or EU students. Accepting overseas students to these studentships will i ncur the overseas stu dent fees rate and so increase the cost of sponsoring the PhD student.

Other studentships and scholarships: There are a small number of scholarships available for PhD students from schemes operated by the DTI and/or the Research Councils to promote industrial collaboration. These will be advertised on this web page when they become available. For Optics students, there is a special Mike Kidger Memorial Scholarship in Optical Design for MSc & PhD students.

For overseas applicants, there is a limited number of studentships available from the Dorothy Hodgkin Post Graduate Awards scheme. In addition, many national governments have their own programmes to support PhD students studying abroad.

MSc Course in Optics and Photonics

If you are interested in a research career in optics and photonics, you may wish to apply for a place on our MSc course, offered together with the Photonics Group and the Experimental Solid State Physics Group. This provides an excellent training to go into the optics and photonics industry and the graduates may also go on to study for a PhD in the QOLS group. Traditionally we have recruited a significant fraction of our PhD students from this MSc programme. Further information about the course can be found in the Postgraduate Prospectus.